BIBLE CHRONOLOGY and EGYPT
(Investigator 157, 2014
My aim is to calculate biblical chronology back to Abraham and compare
this with Egyptian history.
My calculations disagree by 46 years with a list of dates for Israel's
kings in the NRSV Reference Bible (1993).
I don't settle this conflict but will note the difference in brackets.
Abraham moves to Canaan:
1922 BC [or 46 years
Jacob and family move to Egypt
Israel's Exodus from Egypt
Construction of Solomon's temple starts
BACK TO ABRAHAM
We’ll start with 586 BC when the last king of Judah was dethroned and
the Jews went into exile in Babylon, and calculate back to Abraham.
The date, 586 BC, is from secular textbooks:
The period of Israel’s kings after Solomon’s death was 390 years.
(Ezekiel 4:5) [or 344 years according to NRSV] and therefore
BC [or 930]
Solomon reigned 40 years (1 Kings 11:42)
Therefore Solomon's 4th year was:
1012 BC [or 966]
Solomon’s 4th year was the 480th year from the Exodus. (1 Kings
Therefore the Exodus from Egypt started:
1492 BC [or 1446]
The Israelites dwelt in Egypt 430 years. (Exodus 12:40-41) These 430
years include the stay of Israel’s ancestors in Canaan which commenced
when Abraham entered Canaan at the age of 75. (Genesis 12:4-14).
The 430 years in Canaan and Egypt started:
1922 BC [or 1876]
THE 390 YEARS and 46-YEAR DIFFERENCE
Straight-out addition of the reigns of Judah’s kings (and one queen)
from II Kings and II Chronicles comes to 393 years:
Ezekiel 4 describes the prophet Ezekiel lying on his
side for 390 days
next to a picture of Jerusalem engraved on a brick. The reason is:
have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the
number of the days, three hundred and ninety days… (4:5 KJV)
translations have "punishment" rather than "iniquity" and
some writers therefore argue Ezekiel was predicting a 390-day siege of
Jerusalem. Others argue that Ezekiel was predicting a 390-year exile of
the Israelites. Neither interpretation, however, finds fulfillment in
If the 390 days when Ezekiel lay next to his engraving represent years
of "iniquity" then the 390 years refer to the entire Kings period
starting when Israel split into two kingdoms until Babylon conquered
Jerusalem in 586 BC.
The straight-out addition giving 393 years is so close to 390 years
that I interpret Ezekiel as giving the exact summation.
However, besides rounding out most reigns to full years, the Bible is
also sometimes vague on whether certain kings reigned as co-regents or
The chart in the NRSV Reference Bible does show overlapping
reigns and starts the Kings period in 930 BC i.e. 46 years later than
This leaves an apparent 46-year discrepancy with Ezekiel which we might
investigate another time.
YEARS (2 x 215)
From Abraham’s arrival in Canaan at age 75 until his grandson Jacob
took the clan to Egypt was 215 years.
You can add this up from Genesis 12:4; 21:5; 25:26; 47:9.
The 430 years "in Egypt" have to count from Abraham’s arrival in Canaan
since Jacob took the clan to Egypt 215 years later and after that it
was only 4 generations until the Exodus. (Genesis 50:23; Exodus 6:14-26)
Therefore the 430 years in "Egypt" (Exodus 12:40-41) began with 215
years in Canaan (which Egypt at various times ruled) followed by 215
years in Egypt proper.
words "Now the sojourning
of the children of Israel … in Egypt was four hundred and thirty
years…" (Exodus 12:40 KJV) are problematical because "Israel" is the
alternative name of Jacob (Genesis 32:28) and Jacob's children or
descendants stayed in Egypt 215 years. The 430 years count from Jacob's
grandfather Abraham, but Abraham and his son Isaac and grandson Jacob
cannot be "children of Jacob".
One solution is that the land was already called "Israel" in Jacob's
time (Genesis 34:7; 49:7; 49:16) and "children" sometimes means
"people" rather than "descendants". Therefore in Exodus 12:40 "children
of Israel" could refer to "people of the land of Israel" and these
people include Abraham.
MORE DATES IN THE
Measuring from 1922 BC [or 46 years later] the period that Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob, lived in Canaan was 215 years:
1922 to 1707 BC [or 1876 to 1661]
Joseph (Jacob's 11th son) became second-in-charge or vice-regent of
Egypt at age 30. (Genesis 41:46) Then came seven years of prosperity
followed by seven years of famine. (Genesis 41:46-57)
After two years of famine, when Joseph would have been 40, his father
Jacob and the entire family moved from Canaan to Egypt. This move
completed the first 215 years of the 430-year period. (Genesis 45:1-8)
Jacob was then 130 years old. (Genesis 47:9)
Therefore Jacob was 130 and Joseph was 40 in: 1707
BC [or 1661]
Joseph became vice-regent at 30:
1717 BC [or 1671]
The seven-year famine started in:
1710 BC [or 1664]
died, and all his brothers, and all that generation… Now there arose a
new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph." (Exodus 1:7, 8)
verses cover a long period the "new king of Egypt" could
mean a new dynasty. At this point the Israelites were made slaves and
Moses was born.
The ten plagues of Egypt and the Exodus occurred when Moses was 80.
(Deuteronomy 31:2; 34:7; 1:3)
Therefore the "new king" or dynasty that enslaved Israel began in 1492
– 80 =
1572 BC [or 1526]
We now have some rough biblical dates.
Egyptologists have established a chronology based on the reigns of
Egyptian kings. The following is from Schultz & Seidel (1998, p.
Dynasty (approx. 50 kings)
Dynasty (petty kings in Nile Delta)
|Fifteenth Dynasty (Hyksos)
Dynasty (Hyksos vassals, parallel to Fifteenth Dynasty)
Dynasty (only in Thebes, approx. 15 kings) ca.1645-1550
This chronology is one of many but is widely used.
Egyptologists start with dates they consider certain and calculate back
from names, wars and eclipses recorded on monuments and papyrus
documents. Seven ancient "king lists" are known, all of them partial
and with errors, the most useful being the "Turin King List" compiled
about 1200 BC.
Archaeological sites in neighboring countries are dated by comparing
their pottery-types with pottery used in Egypt during the reigns of
different pharaohs. Therefore if Egyptian chronology contains errors
then historical dates for neighboring countries could be wrong too.
The volcanic eruption of Santorini near Crete used to
be dated to about
1500 BC by pottery and other objects in the ash.
Large volcanic explosions eject sulphur which makes rainfall acidic and
shows up in the Greenland icecap. The snow layers can be counted and
layers of acidic ice correlated to known volcanic explosions such as
Tambora (1816 AD) and Pompeii (79 AD).
Danish scientists, in 1987, published their analysis of an ice core
from Greenland and found an acid spike dated 1645 BC but none around
1500 BC. In 2006 carbon dating of an olive branch found in the
Santorini pumice and ash supported the new date.
In other words, the dates for Egyptian history may be 100 years too low
for the period around 1500 BC. (Science Illustrated, 2008)
Egypt’s priesthood and pharoahs were not objective
destroyed whatever history they didn’t like. For example:
• An inscription at El Kab in Sudan reveals that
around 1650 the Cushites (from Sudan) rampaged through Egypt and
reached the Nile Delta. No known Egyptian inscription, however, records
this defeat. The Cushite Empire conquered Egypt several times, but only
recently became part of textbook content because the Egyptians erased
evidence of Cushite rule. (Investigator #124)
• Hatshepsut (1479-1457 BC), the female pharaoh,
vanished from history for over 3000 years.
• Pharoah Akhenaten (1351–1334 BC) introduced
sun-worship. The New Encyclopedia Britannica says: "the name
"Amon" [Egypt's most powerful god] was also hacked out of the
inscriptions throughout Egypt. Here and there the names of other gods
and goddesses were removed...."
After his death Akhenaton's own name was obliterated from monuments and
his capital city abandoned and forgotten until the 19th century.
Pringle (2014) writes: "Those who succeeded Akhenaten on the thrown
attempted to erase all memory of his rule, his religion, and his
capital." His wife Nefertiti and son Tutankhamun were also erased.
• Wegner (2014) reports the discovery of a previously
unknown "entire dynasty of kings" based in Abydos, NW of Thebes — a
third Egyptian kingdom (besides the Hyksos and Thebes) which flourished
• The Hyksos, a foreign dynasty, ruled northern Egypt
for 108 years but their history was obliterated. The Modern World
Encyclopaedia (1935) dates them to 3000-2500 BC which is wrong by
over 1000 years.
The Britannica says the Hyksos were:
who settled in northern Egypt during the 18th century BC. In about 1630
they seized power, and Hyksos kings ruled Egypt as the 15th dynasty (c.
& Seidel (1998) write:
Hyksos introduced the
horse and chariot, the compound bow, improved battle axes, and advanced
fortification techniques into Egypt. At Avaris … in the northeastern
delta, they built their capital with a fortified camp over the remains
of a Middle Kingdom town that they had seized…
Egypt the horse and chariot, the wide usage of bronze, and new weapons…
Their power extended from Palestine to Thebes the main city in Middle
Egypt… In about 1550 BC Ahmose, the founder of the 18th Dynasty,
expelled the Hyksos and reunited Egypt. (p. 107)
Aside from deliberate destruction of history much
material was buried
simply to make space. Thomas (2012), referring to the great Karnak
temple at Luxor, writes:
during or after the end of the Ptolemaic period (304-30 BC), an
enormous group of statues and other objects, now known as the 'Karnak
Cachette', was buried in a large pit…
from the Middle
Kingdom onwards many royal and private statues, stelae, obelisks,
offering tables, amulets and other objects gradually accumulated in
courtyards and halls throughout the outer, more public parts of the
temple. Ultimately filling up many available spaces and impeding new
building projects, these donated objects probably also offered
obstacles to daily life in the temple. An efficient solution was found,
in this and other temples, when the still-sacred (and often very heavy)
objects were gathered together and buried within the temple precinct.
With dates and reigns still debated, any connection
of Abraham, Isaac,
Jacob, Joseph or Moses with particular pharaohs is speculative:
• The Hyksos introduced horses and chariots into
Egypt and Genesis says that Joseph used chariots (Genesis 41:43; 46:29;
50:9) and requisitioned horses. (47:17) The Israelites' 215-year stay
in northern Egypt apparently overlapped with the 108-year rule of the
• Perhaps the Santorini volcanic explosion triggered
climate change that brought the 7-year famine when Joseph was
vice-regent — however the current date for Santorini (1628 BC) is later
than my date (1710 BC or 1664) for the famine.
• The Exodus coincides with the 18th Dynasty near the
reign of Hatshepsut; and Akhenaten's monotheism (in the form of
Sun-worship) came after, and therefore might have been inspired by,
Moses' monotheism — but again, speculative.
Of later pharaohs five appear in the Old Testament.
Using the dates in
Schultz & Seidel their reigns were:
Shishak [Shosheng I] (I Kings 11:40) — 945-924 BC
So [Osorkon IV] (II Kings 17:4)
— 732-722 "
Taharqa (II Kings 19:9)
— 690-664 "
Necho I (II Chroncles 35:20)
— 610-595 "
Hophra [Apries] (Jeremiah 44:30) — 589-570 "
Pharoah Shishak invaded Israel "in the fifth year of Rehoboam's reign".
(I Kings 14:21-29; II Chronicles 12:1-12) An inscription at Amun temple
at Karnak lists over 150 geographical names relating to this invasion.
(Levin 2012) Since only one great Egyptian invasion of Israel at this
period is known, Sheshong is considered to be Shishak. (Schultz &
Seidel, p. 271)
Infrared images taken by NASA satellites are now
archaeologists, and indicating that 99% of ancient Egypt is still
Amor (2011) reports: "Egyptologist Dr Sarah Parcak and a team of
archaeologists from the University of Alabama have used infrared
satellite imaging to aid in the discovery of more than 3000 ancient
towns and villages, some 1000 tombs, and possibly 17 pyramids lying
unknown beneath the sands of Egypt."
Bonin (2011) writes that Dr Parcak: "Estimates that less than one per
cent of ancient Egypt is known."
Five pharaohs named in the Bible are among hundreds
of Bible names and
events historically confirmed.
Critics who deny the Exodus and other biblical events because Egyptian
records don't mention them, ignore that only 1% of ancient Egypt is
Such critics also put their trust in priests and pharoahs who removed
from historical records kings, cities, dynasties, kingdoms and even
A Historic Eruption, Science Illustrated, March/April 2008,
Amor, K. Satellite imagery uncovers lost pyramids and settlements in
Egypt, Minerva, Volume 22, Number 4, July/August 2011, p. 7
Bonin, L. Hidden Egypt, Science Focus, July 2011, 51-55
Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Deluxe Edition, Chicago
Levin, Y. Did Pharoah Sheshong Attack Jerusalem? Biblical
Archaeology Review, July/August 2012, 42-52
NRSV Reference Bible with Apocrypha, 1993, Zondervan, 438-439
Pringle, H. Beyond the Palace Walls, Archaeology, May/June
Schultz, R. & Seidel, M. (Editors) 1998 Egypt The World of the
Thomas, S. An Unnamed Statue of a Late Middle Kingdom Vizier, Ancient
Egypt, December 2011/January 2012
Wegner, J. Kings of Abydos, World Archaeology, April/May 2014,
accuracy and modern
relevance of the Bible on this website: